bad art/good people / the euskadi 11

February 2, Bellefontaine Examiner

One Ohio arts council is holding a creative fundraiser that highlights the supportive hyper-local culture upholding many smaller cultural groups: “Not-So-Bad Art by Good People.”

The Logan County Arts League, headquartered in Bellefontaine, Ohio, promotes arts appreciation and creation in Logan County, which has a population of around 45,000. The group holds exhibits, educational events, and workshops throughout the year. Founded in 1954, the Art League met in local schools and churches until purchasing a gallery building in 2001. The Arts League is supported by its members and local donors.

The idea behind the fundraisers: Local “celebrities” and community members join artists in creating and displaying artwork, and the pieces are auctioned for the sponsoring group. In the Logan County Arts League’s iteration, a popular vote is open for two weeks, during which art fans and friends select the best piece in the “Not-So-Bad” exhibit. The public is invited to vote at the Art League’s gallery or by mail, but each vote costs $1. After voting ends, all pieces are auctioned and all proceeds (raised by voting, a dinner prior to the auction, and the auction itself) support the Art League.

Arts League members mentioned in a recent interview that they borrowed the idea of “Bad Art by Good People” from organizations in nearby Shelby and Champaign Counties, adding “Not So” to the event’s title.

“Not-So-Bad Art” is a fun idea for a fundraiser, and, at least to an untrained eye, the art isn’t bad at all. It also brings to light the supporters of the local arts program: community-minded, local citizens who appreciate art. It’s an idea that brings attention to the organization, while sharing the spotlight with its supporters.

Art education and advocacy makes sense as a localized endeavor: artists and physical galleries tend to promote education, civic pride, and economic engagement for the communities in which they reside. In an NPQ piece last year, Jennifer Swann took note of the multilayered ways in which arts programs and their communities impact one another. Swann’s article discusses a study by Americans for the Arts, in which interviewers found that “supporting the community” stands as the third-most popular motivation for attendance at arts events. Fundraisers such as “Not-So-Bad Art” highlight the importance of those “good people” who are so motivated.—Lauren Karch